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How Much Is An Olympic Gold Medal Worth?

Aug 4, 2012 • Behavioral Economics, Developing Economies, Government, Regulation, Thinking Economically, Uncategorized • 423 Views    No Comments

In addition to the gold, silver or bronze, Olympic athletes get money for winning. The amount, though, depends on their National Olympic Committee.

The Singapore Olympic Committee gives its gold medal winners $800,000, a UK gold medal winner gets his or her face on a stamp and Australian gold medalists get $20,000 and their face on a stamp. According to yesterday’s Reuters list, no one from Singapore has gotten the gold while the UK has 8 stamps to print.

Here are some other gold medal cash prizes:

  • Kazakhstan: $250,000
  • Kyrgyzstan: $200,000
  • Uzbekistan: $150,000
  • Russia: $135,000
  • Tajikistan: $63,000
  • US: $25,000

 

As for the medals, the Olympic gold contains 6 grams of gold and 394 grams of silver making its “melt down” value close to $680.82. Silver, at $385, and bronze for less than $5 are worth much less.

In the US, taxes are one reason that the value of the medals matters. Athletes are taxed on the value of all that they earn at the Olympics.  Add to that the US $25,000 cash prize and you get $25,680.82 in taxable income. (But here it gets complicated. The actual tax bill depends on deductible expenses, exemptions and other tax details.)

Thinking economically, I started wondering about incentives. If athletes from different countries can go home with prizes ranging from a picture on a stamp to $800,000, does that affect their performance?

These BBC articles here and here tell more about the amounts and issues that relate to cash prizes for medals, and this CNBC article presents slightly different numbers for the cost of Olympic medals. To read about how countries tax prizes, here and here are some facts. And, to check if anyone will go home to Singapore with that $800,000, here is a Reuters medal list.

 

 

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